Communication, some say, separate us from animals. But not just communication, being able to communicate ideas and concepts and in turn make them into reality. For years businesses have had to distribute written memos and other paperwork to their fellow employees in order to spread their ideas. In the changing world that we live in today this concept of spreading ideas is slowly fading. Communication is spread throughout the globe in a matter of minutes through the use of computers and modern technology. We can communicate over thousands of miles or just a couple of floors with only the click of a button.
But with this new found way of communicating comes the confusion of what to do with all this information, how best to utilize it, and how to regulate it. This paper will look into those questions and what actually makes up this new virtual world that we are creating for ourselves called cyberspace. In the 1950's and 60's the fear of nuclear attack was constantly on the minds of the American people and the government. The government therefore developed a corporation called RAND that they put in charge of making a network that could be protected from nuclear attack and could guarantee that we could still fire our own nuclear missiles in our defense. Soon major schools and corporations threw their hats into the race for a network in which information could be sent electronically.
Throughout the seventies a couple of schools developed their own network in which they could communicate with each other and devices were designed to make networks within offices possible using a technology called Ethernet. Throughout the eighties the newly designed internet was mainly used by science foundations, colleges, and the government as they worked together with growing computer and telephone companies to help advance the technology. It wasn't until the early nineties when the Internet started to look the way it does now, with the first Internet society and the founding of the World Wide Web in 1991. Since then the Internet has been growing, getting faster, and finding its way into more and more peoples lives every day. Over 2.7 trillion e-mail messages alone were sent in 1997 (Nickels, Mchugh 508). Keeping that in mind it is easy to see why we need managers in order to keep this information from cluttering up systems and getting lost in the hectic world today.
Therefore there is a new breed of manager, a information systems manager, one that can keep the flow of information in and out of a corporation flowing with a minimal breakdown. Information that corporations rely on a day to day basis. There are basically three types of networks in use today. Internet, Intranet and the extra net. Most people are aware of and use the first I will talk about, the Internet. The internet is a series of computers and computer networks that are linked together through one large, what is often called 'superhighway,' ; in which users can look at almost any information that they are given access to in their own home or office.
There are some regulations, as I will speak about later, but there isn't someone constantly looking over your shoulder and information is usually very easy to come by. An Intranet is usually a company wide network closed to the public in which people within the company are the only ones who have access to this information. Intranets are used to send interoffice mail, forms, and other information which once had to be written out and sent throughout the corporation wasting valuable time and paper. Extranets are semiprivate networks that allow others from outside different corporations to access to certain information as needed to accomplish tasks or so others can collaborate on different problems. This is allowing more people to access information that they might need at their office from their home or even another country.
But with this freedom also comes the threat of others who hack their way into certain information that is not meant to be seen by those outside of the corporation. With this growing network of electronic messaging and communication there must be different software available in order to best utilize it. The most widely used is word processing software where memos are written and the basic part of communication is typed out and standard letters can be saved for future use. Spreadsheet programs are being used to perform calculations in a couple of seconds that used to take managers hours to do. This makes a manager's decisions more accurate because it eliminates some problems that can be associated with a human error and makes it easier to modify information as needed. Database programs are used to keep track of hundreds and even thousands of records that once would take hours to find but now take only a click of the mouse to look up accounts or other records that may need to be looked up periodically.
Communication is also affected not only in the area of written messages, but also conferences where people can talk from as far away as different countries while being able to see each other and talk as if they were in the same room. So as you can see these programs incorporated into networks make it possible to complete tasks that are needed on the Internet, Intranet, and extra nets. By 2002 between one-half and two-thirds of all businesses will be running Intranets (Nickels, Mchugh 507). This trend shows the usefulness of the Intranet to businesses today. Costs are being cut and information is being spread faster and more efficiently in the world today. Many companies are also beginning to jump into the Internet to sell different products that can be shipped to your door.
These companies are no longer having to keep stocks on the shelves but merely pictures and ads on the Internet. When a customer orders a specific product the product is often shipped straight from the supplier rather than the company you are ordering from cutting down on inventory and costs of maintaining this inventory. 'The Internet provides a democratic platform where mom-and-pop operations can sell alongside multinational companies on an equal footing'; (Skoll 65-66). Even large corporations such as FedEx have seen the advantages of using Intranets as they unveil one of the largest intranets which will play host to nearly 145,000 employees. This Intranet system will allow FedEx to communicate with its employees worldwide and to be able to track packages and supplies as they are needed. As with all new advances in the world today there are legal implications associated with the Internet today.
Questions and problems legally have arose and are now making their way through our court system and with these cases come new laws and regulations on what can be said and done in cyberspace. As Congress enters the end of their 1999 legislative season there are a few bills that they are looking at that effect the Internet and all those who use it. One bill focuses on privacy and the Internet. It would limit how much of the amount of information that you provide over the Internet could be distributed to other companies without your written permission. This would put a stop to people selling your personal information and background to other companies for profit. Another bill would put a stop to spamming on the web.
Spam is basically unsolicited junk mail that is sent to people on the net no matter if it is with or without their permission. Another bill that has been given a look at is centered on the growing trend of Internet commerce. The Internet Growth and Development Act of 1999 would allow digital signatures sent over the Internet to be regarded in the court of law as a legal binding signature. As companies sell to states other than the one they physically reside in they must also pay taxes, both in the state they are selling to and the state they reside in.
This is another concern of lawmakers as this growing community begins to sell to other states and in some cases other countries. Issues other than these presented have faced or are going to have to be faced by lawmakers as the Internet expands and more problems arise. Problems that have not quite made it into law books or courthouses focus around things such as free speech, where should we draw the line on free speech and are hate groups protected by this amendment to our constitution. Other thing such as hackers and security on the Internet are also problems that will soon arise. Another litigation that everyone is probably aware of is the Microsoft court case where the Internet is the prime focus. Microsoft has been sued by the U.S. government for placing a monopoly on its Internet browser by packaging it with its operating system, which is in use by almost all businesses today.
We have come a long way from the periods of time when written communication was used first to record history. Now it seems that this new form of written communication has written its own history. Some may try to what the future holds for the Internet today but no one can be sure of what the future holds. 'Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons. ' So proclaimed Popular Mechanics magazine in 1949 (Wright 26-29). Predictions such as these may make us laugh as we look back on them, but other predictions being made today have much evidence to back them up.
The emergence of a whole new Internet, Internet 2, that will be available for schools and learning centers only is in the near future because of the growing traffic on the Internet today. 'Internet 2 will offer the country's most prestigious universities quicker networking capabilities and fancy new applications for cutting edge research'; (Pfeiffer 31). But it is also seen that this new Internet will still have to be rebuilt again as it too is beginning to get filled up with users.
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